Saturday, October 26, 2019

A celebration of sharing


(This story belonged to the years when the awareness of the harmful effects of fireworks on the Eco system was not fully known)
It was Diwali that day. The air was thick with smoke but full of fun and revelry and the atmosphere echoed with the laughter of children. The houses were all decorated in multi-coloured serial lights. The endless rows of diyas with dancing flames added magic to the ambiance. The children were seen running hither and thither bursting crackers and lighting sparklers. The smell of elachi, kesar and other spices wafted from the kitchens that were preparing scrumptious sweets and namkeens. One could see well-dressed men and women hurrying in cars to make the last minute purchases of dry fruits, gift boxes, sweets and clothes.
Siddharth and Ankita were sitting morose in the verandah watching the brightly-lit houses across the road. Siddharth put his arm around Ankita and gently patted her comfortingly without uttering one word. Both knew what was passing through each other’s mind.
***
Exactly a year before, the scene was entirely different. Their boy of eight years, Aniruddh, was busy a week before Diwali making endless list of crackers he wished to buy and in deciding how much of the money should go for the light and how much for the sound varieties. He liked long Lars that would bring to a stop the entire neighbourhood with its noise and dazzle. He also had a fancy for the multi-coloured fountains and flower pots while his dad had a weakness for rockets. His mother had an aversion for the loud detonations of the country made atom bombs. The boy and dad went with a predetermined budget only to be exceeded by several times. They came home with large packets that seemed almost impossible to finish single handedly even in a couple of days.
It was dark already. The loud explosions and brightness from the rockets and flower pots in the neighbourhood indicated the commencement of celebration. Aniruddh, despite his love for the fireworks, was a timid boy and afraid to light up the noisy stuff. He dragged his parents from the living room to help him in bursting the crackers. The boy let his dad do the lighting of crackers while he closed his ears with both palms and jumped with joy when he heard the muffled sounds.
 There was a slum close by and about half a dozen urchins, half-clad, in unkempt hair, stood outside the gate and watched the display with awe. For the poor and the deprived, Diwali day was like any other day of toil and hunger. The children watched with covetous eyes the vast spread of crackers of assorted varieties kept in a corner. When one of the crackers did not go off, one boy from across the gate rushed inside to pick it up and examine. Siddharth shouted at the boy “You fool, don’t go near, it may burst”
It was then Aniruddh said, “I have a request, Dad. They are all very poor and do not have the money to buy even a shirt. They are as young as I am. Can I call them also to join in the fun? We have so much crackers to burst.”
His mom said “No, give them some crackers and send them away. You don’t have to rub shoulders with them.”
 Aniruddh was adamant “Ma, I want them to enjoy as much as I do when dad lights up the crackers. They are also young like me and not accustomed to crackers. They will be in the lawn only for two hours. I will be happier to see them having fun along with me. Please do not say no.”
Siddharth intervened to say, “Ankita, let them also enjoy. Had I known Ranariddh’s mind earlier, I would have brought some clothes too for these urchins.”
Aniruddh was very happy and called the children to come in. For the next two hours it was a riot of laughter and gaiety amidst the glittering light and colour. The entire lot was finished except for a few stray items which Aniruddh gave away to the boys. When they started to leave happily, Ankita called them in and said “Don’t go away. Come inside and wash your hands. I will give you some sweets and snacks to eat.”
***
A year had since passed but the beaming and happy face of Aniruddh on the Diwali day was still fresh in their memory. A few months after Diwali, the boy died after a short ailment despite all the care and treatment.
When Ankita saw the urchins gathered at the gate again and seemed disappointed to see the dark house bereft of noise, brightness and particularly the pleasant boy. She could not suppress her tears. When Siddharth saw Ankita crying, he said “Get ready, let us go and get lots of crackers and sweets for Aniruddh’s friends. I will ask them to come after an hour for an encore of celebrations like last year. That would make Aniruddh happy.” She readily agreed and asked him to buy some shorts and T- shirts too for the boys.
When they returned back with the bundles the boys were eagerly waiting. Siddharth called them inside and gave them the new dresses to wear. Then under his supervision, the little urchins enjoyed to their hearts’ content the lighting of the crackers watched by Ankita with mixed feelings of joy and grief.
 One little girl in that group innocently asked “Uncle, where is the boy who played with us last time? We enjoyed this more last year when he was around. Has he gone out of station?”
Ankita could not suppress her tears and covering her face with her sari she cried aloud. Siddharth told the girl “Aniruddh is no more. We did this as we felt he would be happy if he could see you all in smiles today.”
As the entire lot of urchins stood speechless as if frozen, the little girl said “We are very sad. Had we known this earlier, we would not have made all this merriment.”
Ankita pulled the little girl to her side and said “Don’t feel sad. Aniruddh will be feeling happy wherever he is. All of you come each year on this day for making him and us happy.”

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Seshu's travail

(A translation of a Tamil story of mine சேச்சுவின் கவலை)

” Both the saris that I have are torn at several places and are beyond mending. I am shy of going out,” lamented Alamelu in a voice that was almost inaudible.

“I am fully aware of your plight, Alamelu but I am presently  in a quandary. I have in hand only 300 rupees and the annual festival of the presiding deity is approaching within a week. The sari of goddess is in tatters like yours and however much I try to conceal, they are still visible. When devotees observe the torn condition though without commenting, I cringe in shame. I have pleaded with some devotees who seem well to do to help but to no avail,” bewailed Seshu, the priest at the local Kodandapani temple.
“My god, I did not know. Do not worry about me. I can manage for a month more. It does not matter much as I hardly go out. Why don’t you ask the trustee to do the needful explaining the sad situation and the ensuing annual festival? After all he has a responsibility too,” said Alamelu.
“Do you have to tell me? I had already done that many times and he gets upset whenever I linger before him. According to him, there is practically no income for the temple from the lands and that he is already spending his money for the daily pujas and rituals. He has told me many times that I have to request the regular devotees to contribute for the expenses and charged me that I am not doing my duty properly. I am really at my wit’s end how I can get a new sari for the goddess before the festival,” he bemoaned wiping his eyes with his upper cloth.
After some silence, Alamelu said,” I have a suggestion. You should not object to that. I have this pair of gold bangle though it has become very thin over the years. Please dispose it off with the pawn broker in the bazaar and buy a good sari and blouse piece and good dhotis for the god with the money and use the rest for expenses. It matters little to me whether I have gold bangle or not. I will buy glass bangles for me.”
Shocked at the suggestion, Seshu was quick to respond saying, “No, no, I have never bought you even a gram of gold after our marriage and I cannot agree to take away the only semblance of an ornament on you. Let the god and goddess find a way to buy their needs. They are aware of our extreme poverty and cannot thrust this responsibility on me.”
“Such a wise man as you are, how do you think the bangles belong to us? Everything we own is given by Him and we are only returning Him in the hour of need. I think He is deliberately testing you to the extreme. Listen to me, sell these bangles to Seth and after getting the money buy the needed things. There are hardly three or four days,” Alamelu said with a finality.
“Welcome, Sami. It is very unusual for you to visit my shop. I am blessed. What can I do for you,”? the pawnbroker greeted Seshu warmly.
“I need some money urgently. Here is a pair of bangles that I wish to sell. Kindly give me whatever it is worth.”
Seth examined the bangles carefully and said,” Sami, please do not take me amiss. There is more copper in it than gold. It will not fetch you much money.”
When he saw Seshu’s face fall, he asked with concern, “What for you do you need the money urgently, Sami? Is anyone sick at home? Tell me how much you need? I will pay you.”
“Not like that. By god’s grace we are well. In four days the annual festival of the temple is to take place. I am ashamed to confide that the sari of goddess is torn all over and it is not possible anymore to conceal them from the eyes of devotees. It has to be replaced immediately. That is why the urgency,” explained Seshu.
“Why do you have to sell the jewel of your wife? Why is trustee not coming forward to help?”
“The trustee tells that he is already spending his money for daily puja and rituals and that I should ask the devotees to help. It is not forthcoming. If the god and goddess who shower their blessings on all of us suffer and wear torn vastrams, I feel anguished. It was at my wife’s suggestion that I wished to sell the bangles and make use of the money. It is unfortunate that is also not feasible,” said Seshu
“When is the festival starting?”
“It falls on coming Friday. We have just four days.”
“Please do not worry. God will find some way to help you celebrate the festival in a fitting manner. Today is Monday. If no one comes forward to contribute by Wednesday evening, please come to me. Take these bangles with you,” Seth said in a comforting tone.
It was 8.30 Wednesday evening and the temple usually closed at 9 pm. Seshu was crest fallen as there had been no positive sign of help reaching. There was no word from trustee too. As Seshu was in Janakavalli thayar’s sanctum praying with tears in his eyes, he heard some commotion at the gate of temple. The regular flower seller along with his wife were seen entering with heavy cane baskets on their heads. Seshu rushed out to see the baskets placed outside the sanctum.
“What are these? Who gave them?” he asked them.
“We don’t know. Someone came in a car and requested us to take the baskets inside the temple and give it to the priest. He saw us placing the baskets here from outside and left,” one of them said.
When he removed the coloured clothes that covered the baskets, he found four bundles on one of the baskets and in the other big packets containing raisins, sugar candy(kalkandu), almonds, cashew nuts, packets of kumkum and turmeric, incense sticks, a tin each of ghee and gingelly oil besides a few other things.
When he turned his eyes on the other basket that contained bundles, he found the names Kodandapani and Janakavalli thayar written on them. One of them contained two pairs of dhotis with big zari border in red and green and the other with a pair of Kanchipuram silk saris, one in maroon and another in dark green with large zari borders in gold with two matching blouse pieces.
When he opened the other two bundles specified for ‘priest couple’, he found inside one, a pair of dhotis and upper clothes and in the other a pair of cotton saris of high quality with matching blouse pieces.
There was five thousand rupees in the bundle for god and a two thousand rupee note for the priest. There was a slip of paper with the note, “Let Friday festival be my humble offering every year. I will be there by 5 am on Friday with flower garlands, flowers, basil garlands, fruits of different kinds and sandal paste. Let us make it a great celebration…a devotee.”
A thought ran across Seshu’s mind whether it could be from Seth but the large size of bounty made him confused.
Seshu jumped with joy at the pleasant turn of events and turned to look at the Goddess only to sense a fleeting grin in Her face. He prostrated before Her gratefully for the miracle and got ready to attend happily to the huge load of work before him.
On Friday the temple wore a festive look with festoons of mango leaves and plantain trees at the entrance. Sharp at 5 am, a car stopped at the entrance of the temple and Seth along with his family members alighted followed by his servants with several baskets. Seshu welcomed them with a broad smile and folded hands.
“Sami, are you happy now that the God had answered your prayers? This function will be henceforth mine every year. You must however remind me a week before,” said the Seth. “I have also brought a big brass Hundi to be kept in the hall for devotees to contribute. Suddenly the temple bell started tolling loudly signifying the start of celebration.
It is a tiny bit of news that Seth visited Seshu’s house on the following day and handed him a small packet saying, “Kindly accept this small token of affection and   both of you bless me and my family.”
After blessing them, Seshu opened the packet to see a pair of shining bangles in gold. Flabbergasted he opened his mouth to protest when Seth implored, “Kindly accept this token of gratitude for turning my attention from the material world of making money towards god. Ever since Friday I am suffused with joy and peace of mind that I have never experienced.” 
Alamelu beaming with happiness cast a furtive glance at the glittering bangles. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The second chance


It was getting dark and the sky was overcast. The crowd had thinned out in the park and the children playing on the slides and swings had also gone back to their homes. The park was almost empty. When he felt a drop of water fall on his face, Sadasivam too decided to leave. As he was walking back slowly on the long bridge over the river to reach his area, he saw a young boy a little away standing at the edge of the bridge holding its railings on hand. The boy stood motionless with his eyes fixed on the vast space of water moving slowly beneath. Sadasivam felt it odd for a young boy of about 15 to be standing alone gazing at the water below at this hour. He knew the river was deep there. He suspected the boy’s intentions may not be good and hurried his pace towards him.
When he went close to the boy, he looked at him vacantly possibly waiting for him to pass leaving him alone again. But Sadasivam had no mind to do that.
“Why are you standing here alone when it is dark and about to rain?” he asked the boy.
The boy did not respond but turned his face towards the river.
“Haven’t you heard me? Why are you here? Go back home before it rains. Is your home nearby?”
“Leave me alone, Sir, I beg of you,” he mumbled. It was then Sadasivam noticed his swollen eyes and surmised he must have been crying. It did not take long for him to figure out that the boy must have failed in the annual examination and afraid to go home.
I will not pry much into your affairs but have no intention to leave you here alone. You can come to my home which is very close by, eat something and share your problem. We can discuss and find ways to resolve it. I will help you. I am living alone with my wife and servant in a big house. You can stay for the night if you wish to and decide what should be done next. If you still want to go to the bridge, I cannot prevent you but I may alert the police. But right now you are coming with me,” Sadasivam said with finality.
The boy then started crying inconsolably. Sadasivam put his hands on his shoulder and led him home without talking much.
“I have brought a young guest home. I found him standing on the bridge alone. He will stay here tonight with us as we have some important matter to discuss after dinner when you can also be present. Can you give him some fruit juice before he freshens himself up?” Sadasivam said explaining to his wife about the  boy’s presence.
“What is your name?” she asked when she handed over the chilled orange juice.
With his head hung low, the boy mumbled,” Vedagiri”.”
When she heard the name, she was startled and kept silent for a moment. With a twinge of sadness and  much affection, she said, “I like the name and it is my favourite,” even as she started wiping her eyes with her sari.
Meanwhile Sadasivam handed him a towel and asked him to have a quick wash and come to dining table
As they sat down comfortably after dinner on the sofa with Vedagiri by the side of aunty, Sadasivam prodded him to tell his story truthfully without any fear. As the boy was perspiring, aunty switched on the AC.
“Tell me first about your parents, siblings if any, where you live and then proceed with your account of today’s happenings,” said Sadasivam in casual tone.
“We are a poor family. My father Sundaresan works as a cook for marriages and such like occasions. The income is not enough. He will be away for four or five days in a week and come for one or two days only to go back. My mother manages with limited income. I have a sister two years younger to me and studying in class 7 in the government school. I have also a brother who is just 8 years and in class two. We are living in a small portion adjacent to perumal kovil (temple),” and paused awaiting their reaction.
“Good, tell me now what all happened since morning and why you were standing near the bridge. I can tolerate anything but a lie. Speak truthfully I warn you,” Sadasivam said in an admonishing tone.
Aunty intervened to tell her husband, “Please do not threaten the child. He looks scared already,” and turning to the boy said affectionately,” Vedagiri, do not be afraid but tell uncle in your own way what all had happened.”
“Okay aunty. The results were out today and I failed for the second time in class 8.I got fair marks in all subjects except mathematics. Previous year too I failed in the same subject. Last year the teacher suggested that I take tuition from him but how can we afford it? The school will not keep boys who have failed twice in same class. I am terribly ashamed and feel bad to face my parents. My father would be shattered by the news as he pinned all his hopes on me. I did not know what to do. I came to the river with a crazy idea but got afraid of the deep water. I did not know what to do as my mind was blank. It was then luckily uncle came and took me away from the spot.,” he stopped as he broke down into sobs.
“Do you have any interest in extracurricular activities like sports, music or anything else,” Sadasivam asked.
“I have not participated in sports as I wished to return home quickly to help my mother. I fetch water daily in the evenings from public tap. I like Carnatic music but have not learnt.” he said.
“There is nothing serious to worry about. With good tuition for a year, you can top the class. We have no child and we are alone. If aunt agrees, you can stay with us permanently. I will engage best teachers to coach you. I will take care of your entire education till you reach post graduate level but on one condition,” he stopped looking at the face of the boy.
Vedagiri looked at him anxiously unable to guess the condition uncle was talking about. He turned to see aunty simply smiling.
Sadasivam laughed and told, “Vedagiri, do not be afraid. I will talk to your parents first and then let you know. Tell me now whether you are comfortable with us and like the surroundings here. If you give me any contact number, I will convey the message to your parents that you are safe with us and that you would return tomorrow.”
“I like the place very much, uncle. It is so spacious and bright and I have never tasted the kind of food served by aunty. The house is very big and posh looking like a palace to me as I am accustomed to live only in a dark single room tenement with broken floor and dim light,” Vedagiri said with a smile.
Aunty drew him close and hugged him to say,” The way you speak is exactly like our Vedagiri,” putting the boy again into confusion.
Uncle cleared it saying, “We had a son of your age by same name but he is no more. Come with me and I will show your room,” and took him away hurriedly.
The next day when Sadasivam went to drop the boy, his father was also luckily there. After the initial pleasantries, Sadasivam told him about how he met the boy and how he persuaded him to come to his home and how much of instant liking his wife and himself took for the boy.
Vedagiri unexpectedly interrupted to say,” Appa, uncle had a son of my age with the same name but he is no more.”
“It is true I had a son of his age. It was all my fault. The boy was not doing well in his class and failed once. Busy as I was in making my company prosper I neglected to pay attention to his progress in studies. I should have discussed with his teachers and engaged a tutor but I was all the time touring across the country and outside in my race for wealth.My wife was also fully busy in taking care of office administration.Both of us were naive in not realizing the gravity of the situation till it was too late.The boy was also not fully open about what was happening at school.
Being a highly sensitive boy, he could not bear the indifference of his class mates and taunts of the teacher and suffered in silence till one day he committed suicide putting us into immense grief. I lost all interest in business but running the company for the welfare of the employees. My wife unable to bear the grief became dazed and silent.
Luckily your son Vedagiri appeared for us and I could see a streak of smile and joy in her face. We wish to make amends for our mistake by making your son reach top of the class and succeed in life. I will talk to a friend of mine who is the correspondent of a well known private school and get him admitted provisionally in class 9 without loss of a year.
I am sure the boy’s presence would bring some life and joy to my home and our lonely existence. Pray do not think I am selfish. If you are agreeable you can be in charge of the canteen of my company and only supervise its efficient running. No hard work and all in air conditioned atmosphere. The salary would be good. You can move into our outhouse that served earlier as a guest house. That way Vedagiri would not be missed by you. I will also meet all the expenses of the education of your other children. I will get them admitted in the same school. I will employ a music teacher to coach Vedagiri and his sister. God has given me abundant wealth. I would implore you kindly to agree.”
Both Sundaresan and his wife fell at his feet and expressed their gratitude, “Our life has been one of utter penury thus far and we have not been able to feed and clothe the children properly. We regard you as god come in human form in answer to our prayers. We will make no claim on Vedagiri as we are interested only in his wellbeing. You have saved him from the jaws of death and you are rightfully his father. While I am beholden to you for what you intend to do for Vedagiri, we will be in eternal debt of gratitude for what you do to me and my family. We both fully agree to abide by your wishes. Anytime you find our presence inconvenient. we will move to some other place.”
“That would not be necessary. All of you come with me now to convey the good news to my anxious wife. Besides Vedagiri, your wife also would give company to my wife. Tell me when I can arrange movers and packers for shifting into the outhouse soonest?” concluded Sadasivam.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Bhagavathi's blessing


Nandini was in a happy frame of mind as the plane taxied to tarmac at Mangalore airport. She would be meeting her only sister Bhargavi, elder to her by six years, after a gap of five years. Bhargavi has been pleading with her all these years to take a break and spend a month with her. The exigencies of work, her frequent tours abroad and her husband’s schedule somehow stood in the way of her visit to this coastal town till this day. Luckily she could do now as her husband was away on tour to China for a week and she was relatively free having just completed her project.
She had not decided about the visit till Bhargavi rang up two days back and mentioned,” Nandini, I know you are busy and cannot take a break. But I insist that you come down for your own sake. The Bhagavathi temple here is celebrating its famed quinquennial function this week and young women are thronging to seek the blessings of goddess. There is no question of your disregarding my request as you are wont to since childhood days.”
“Akka (elder sister), I know why you are particular about my visiting the temple. I have lost all hopes of bearing a child and all the medical opinions support such a pessimism. Please understand that I am really not keen about a visit to the temple. I will nevertheless come for a couple of days just to meet you and your two daughters.” Nandini said.
“Yay, inform me your flight details, I will be at the airport. We can decide the rest when you are here,” Bhargavi said in jubilation.
Nandini saw from a distance her sister standing tall and beautiful as ever belying her 38 years in age but a little worn out in these intervening years. She rushed to her dragging the suitcase and hugged her tightly.
“Nandini, believe me, there has been no change at all in you. You look the same charming and graceful young thing that I saw five years back. I am so happy you could at last make it,” said Bhargavi holding her hands warmly.
“Akka, you have also not changed much except for a few strands of grey hair. What is the secret of your youth?” Nandini asked with a twinkle in her eyes.
As Nandini lay in her bed that night after a sumptuous Palakkad dinner with her sister and nieces by her side, she felt as if she was in her ancestral home with her mother who passed away when she had just joined college. It was Bhargavi who was married by then who took care of her till she finished her post graduation and found a good job at Delhi. The two sisters talked into the late hours of the night after sending the nieces to their room.
“Nandini, I am not pressurizing you but having come this far especially at this opportune and auspicious time, why miss offering prayers to the Goddess. You know amma was a devout devotee of Bhagavathi and regularly visited the temple,” said Bhargavi.
“Do you really believe, akka, that visiting a temple during this time helps in conceiving a child even where doctors have ruled it out? I think it is as ridiculous as circambulating peepal tree for getting a child,” said Nandini in a taunting tone.
“I cannot answer your question to your satisfaction except saying that there is a strong belief long held by our past generations and in such matters only implicit faith helps. You need not come as a supplicant but as a devotee of the Goddess whom amma revered much.
Let us have fun afterwards in the beach as the temple is close to sea shore. The scenic beauty of the location, the incessant waves, the blue sea, the azure sky and the boats of fishermen setting into the sea is a delight to watch. Get up early. We will all go in the morning. Sleep well as you must be tired,” Bhargavi said and bade her goodnight.
The next morning was spent in the crowded temple, offering prayers and going around the sanctum thrice. While Bhargavi prayed for Nandini, it is not known what she sought for. The rest of the time about an hour were spent on a long walk in the beach and watching the waves striking the shore.
On the way back home, Nandini asked her sister, “Have you heard of cases where women without children for long years having conceived after visiting the temple? Be truthful.”
“Frankly, I do not know. It is all hear say but still people throng here. Your case should tell me whether it really works or not.”
“That means you used this ploy to drag me here, is it?” asked Nandini in an accusatory tone.
“Take it in whatever way you like. Is it wrong for an elder sister wanting to have her younger one with her and shower her affection?  Do you really know how much I miss you? Who else is there for me except you after our parents passed away,” Bhargavi said wiping her moist eyes.
Struck by remorse by her own rude remark, Nandini pleaded,” Akka, please forgive me. I was a fool to talk like that. I really enjoy my visit here. I would do anything you ask for unquestioningly,” even as she bent to touch her sister’s feet.
Once back in Delhi, Nandini plunged into her work. In about two months she had to go to Seattle for three months on a project.
It was a rainy Sunday at Seattle when Bhargavi invited her on FaceTime. “Nandini, I am in a mess and I feel highly embarrassed to talk about it. You know I have completed 38 years and my younger daughter is nearing six. I have not had the monthly thing for the last two months. I actually went to pray for you but I wonder whether Bhagavathi misheard me,” she said hiding her pain behind a smile and added,” I wished to abort but your brother in law dissuades me from it. I am very shy to go out these days and remain confined at home.”
“Wow, I concede Bhagavathi is indeed powerful though her blessings are misplaced! Why do you care about others? Let us hope it is a boy for a change. When it is time for delivery, I will come to be of assistance, I assure you,” Nandini spoke to her encouragingly.
Six months later, when Bhargavi was blessed with a baby girl, her husband offered the baby to Nandini who was there telling,” We had already decided accordingly. We felt since Goddess Bhagavathi could not help you directly due to you some medical issues, She perhaps used this ploy to give you a baby. Kindly accept this baby girl as yours. We are sure your home would be filled with laughter and fun and you will have someone to aspire for and shower your affection.
Nandini gladly took the baby in her arms to give her smooches even as her heart was filled with gratitude to Goddess and no less to Bhargavi. Her joy knew no bounds as the baby snuggled close to her and smiled. Bhargavi looked on with tears of joy in her eyes.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

55 word fiction


Yet another peep into 55-word fiction

Kiss
If you kiss her, you get the money you wanted
I don’t like it and in public
Take it or leave it.
She may not like.
She will say nothing and is readily available.
Why do you insist?
So you will not ask me again
OK I need money
He produced a frog to kiss.

Midnight scare
It was past midnight. Trriing, triing.. Wife on phone from Chennai
“Arun, why are you awake so late? “
“Sarah is coming. I am struggling to avoid her.”
“Sarah, who? Don’t open the door.”
“Can’t, she is too big to stop.”
“Have you met her earlier?”
 No, her landfall is expected  in half hour”

The chase
With wind blowing his hair, Nitin chased at hectic speed to retrieve what Vipul had snatched from him. But the gap never seemed to close with both maintaining the same speed. Unrelenting Nitin rode on till he finally grabbed Vipul’s collar to demand the chocolate bar back. The music and carousel had by then stopped 

Soliciting
They were young pretty girls clad in jeans and T-shirts.
When I stared, one of them said “Just 200 rupees Sir. You will be happy for the visit”
I was hesitant wondering at the open soliciting.
“Come, I am free now.”
My wife nudged and said “You need a haircut. Try, it is a new salon”

The mango trick
After the magician’s rope walk and wriggling out of a narrow ring, the dumbfounded audience clapped. Commencing mango trick he placed the seed under a basket under watchful eyes. After some mumbo jumbo, he was about to lift the basket, when his young son shouted, ” Appa, you have left the mango here with me”



Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A peep into my old 55-word fiction






Talisman
He paid Rs.500 to the famous tantric for an unfailing talisman to attract women. He came out and tried it on a young woman waiting at bus stop. Lo, she smiled at him and came near. He smiled back not seeing the talisman she also had in hand and trying on him. Talisman seemed working.
Violence
What started as banter turned violent. Though 15 feet away, she could hardly follow the quarrel between the two goons. Her heart missed a beat when one of them whipped a knife and plunged it deep in other’s abdomen. As red blood gushed, the attacker turned his gaze at her. She quickly shut the television

Beating death
It was a complicated and long heart surgery for four hours. The cardiac surgeon emerged triumphantly announcing ’Operation success. I can beat death.” He told his assistant, ‘Keep things ready for the next surgery. Will be back after a short rest” After an hour, assistant was waking up an inert doctor. Death was smugly laughing
Jackpot
"You will hit jackpot today!"  said my neighbour first thing in the morning, I wondered how he knew my plan to visit Casino. In high spirits, I determined to try my luck fully. As I took the car out, I broke a flower pot by mistake. My wife shrieked "You have hit Jack’s pot!!!"
First time
My family was away. I saw her when strolling in the mall. Tall, shapely and attractive, she was. I took her home. What a pleasant surprise it would be, I thought, even as I laid her on  bed. I gingerly caressed her soft hair. It’s my first gift of Barbie doll for my young daughter.
Obsession
He made sure to see her thrice daily. Her blue eyes, the way she spoke and her smile made her his obsession. She never knew his love for her. She talked a lot but never to him. She just ignored him. He nevertheless hung on to her words till his mom switched off the TV.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A snap decision

Today is the final of the World Cup 2019.Cricket transforms the lives of a few talented but poor young boys into one of great wealth and prosperity. This is a story on one such boy.

Sanjay was the last recognized batsman at the crease. It was the final of an international one day series and with the series evenly poised 2-2 each. He was facing the last ball of the 50th over. A sixer was needed to win the match. It was a do or die situation. He was the cynosure of all the millions of eyes on the ground and before TVs. His future depended on what he did today.
 The stadium was packed to the full. There was an eerie silence with the hearts of viewers in their mouths. The suspense was punishing with the commentators going silent with their fingers crossed. As the menacing bowler was walking back to the starting point, there was a flash of his life for Sanjay from his child hood days like a film on a screen.
The couple in their thirties with their two children were the last to get down from the passenger train at the last station. The compartment was empty. The husband and wife took their small luggage in one hand and the children on the other. Just as they were moving away from the train, they heard a wail of a baby. They both stopped wondering where from the cry had come. The shrill cry from a new born babe came again from within the compartment. The man went up and saw a babe of hardly ten days old under a seat. It was clear to him that it was abandoned. The wife too had followed him and looked around. There was not a soul seen.
He said, “We cannot leave this abandoned baby here. We will take it and leave it at the police outpost in the station.” The moment she took the baby in her hand, it stopped crying and broke into an innocent smile. It was cute looking baby boy.
 She turned to her husband and said, “Why not we keep this baby ourselves? The police will surely hand this over to an orphanage. I don’t wish this gift of God should go there.”
The husband meekly pointed out that they were already leading a hand to mouth existence and that addition of one more member would strain their tiny budget. She put her foot down telling emphatically that they could share whatever they had amongst the five and that the baby should be retained by them. That settled the issue. The baby boy grew up as a member of their family. They bestowed the same affection and care as they gave to the other two children.
Sanjay broken from reverie looked at the bowler running intimidatingly towards him to bowl the last ball. The entire crowd stood up on their feet in high anticipation. His mind was blank to the noisy surroundings and his eyes were focused at the bowler’s arm. Sanjay hit the ball with all the strength at his command and lo the ball fell on the roof of the pavilion opposite him with a thud. There was a deafening uproar with his team mates running in to the middle to lift him in their arms. His country had won. As he walked back to the pavilion with pride along with other players forming line on both sides, the thunderous applause from the stands was resounding.
Declared the man of the match, one of the of the officials approached him with a mike and said, “This is a memorable occasion in your life. You have been instrumental in bringing the trophy to our country. You will be showered with riches and goodies in plenty. What would you like to say on this unforgettable occasion? To whom would you ascribe this outstanding feat?”
Even as he wiped the tears from his eyes, Sanjay replied without a moment’s hesitation, “I dedicate this achievement wholly to my loving parents. My thoughts go back very long. Twenty five years ago, they took a snap decision at a railway station that changed the course of my life. I owe everything to them today, tomorrow and forever.”
There was a puzzled look in the official’s face and the millions who heard him. Sanjay continued,” The snap decision they took that day transformed an abandoned orphan in a train to a loving son in their home. I will now be able to transform in a small way their lives to one of plenty and comfort”